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18 Teamsters Sued as Tools of the Mafia : U.S. Seeks to Oust Presser, Others Under Racketeering Law

June 29, 1988|RONALD J. OSTROW and EILEEN V. QUIGLEY | Times Staff Writers

In addition to naming as a defendant "The Commission of La Cosa Nostra," the alleged ruling body of organized crime, the suit names many prominent reputed Mafia leaders, including Anthony (Tony Pro) Provenzano, Matthew (Matty the Horse) Ianniello, Joseph (Joey the Clown) Lombardo, Anthony (Tony Ripe) Civella and Carmine (The Snake) Persico.

The complaint charged that the current Teamster general executive board members, through various acts and failures to act, have permitted members and associates of La Cosa Nostra to maintain control over the international union and certain of its locals.

Giuliani minimized a verdict in May by a federal jury in Manhattan that rejected government charges in a criminal case that two Teamster elections had been corrupted by organized crime. In that trial, Anthony (Fat Tony) Salerno, reputed boss of the Genovese Mafia family, was found guilty on other counts but acquitted of having fixed the Williams and Presser elections.

Additional Evidence

Giuliani contended that the government had additional evidence to present in this case and noted that a lesser standard of proof is required to win a civil verdict--preponderance of the evidence--as opposed to the stricter standard--guilt beyond a reasonable doubt--in a criminal trial.

Although Giuliani maintained that the government had not scaled back the sanctions it sought in Tuesday's suit because of the Salerno verdict, Justice Department officials in Washington said that a more sweeping crackdown had been contemplated earlier.

The complaint alleged that Mafia figures have extorted Teamster members' rights through a campaign of corruption and violence and that the union's current executive board has failed to remedy corruption inside the Teamsters and that it has allowed many criminals to hold union office.

The suit cited the murders of more than a dozen Teamster dissidents or individuals prepared to testify about Teamster corruption, several other murders and numerous shootings, bombings and beatings as evidence of the pattern of intimidation and violence practiced by the Mafia in its dealings with the international union.

Meese Praises Suit

Atty. Gen. Edwin Meese III praised the suit as "a legally surgical step to remove the corrupt influence from the Teamsters." He has recused himself from all Teamster matters, however, because he took part in President Reagan's 1980 presidential campaign, when the Teamsters broke with most of organized labor and supported the Reagan candidacy.

Ronald J. Ostrow reported from Washington and Eileen V. Quigley reported from New York. Labor writer Henry Weinstein contributed from Los Angeles.

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